Light Rail is considered the most effective long-term solution to deliver reliable, frequent, fast and sustainable transport for Cambridge. Residents, business, the University and visitors would all benefit, and important values such as the City heritage and local environment would be protected. The pressures driven by economic and employment growth are expected to create an influx of more than 120,000 people into Cambridge City and the surrounding South Cambridgeshire District within 20 years from 2011 - that is, the size of Cambridge City again by 2031, now only 15 years away. Addressing …
Let’s get connected…
Cambridge is at a pivotal moment in its history.
Cambridge is witnessing phenomenal and unprecedented economic expansion and population growth. Between 2011 to 2031 the population of the greater Cambridge region will increase by ~120 000 people, the equivalent of the population of Cambridge city again over a period of 15 years.
As a result, Cambridge is facing some of its greatest challenges. There are pressing needs for more housing and effective transport links. Safeguards for the unique and outstanding heritage, environment and quality of life in Cambridge from these pressures have never been more needed. Given the scale of this challenge, it is vital that solutions developed today are fit for purpose when they are operational. Short-term projects – much as they are needed – should not compromise, or close off, options that we can reasonably foresee to be needed in the future.
Barriers to connectivity detract from our quality of life, stifle opportunities, impede economic growth, harm the environment, and cause unnecessary waste. These barriers will increase without major commitments to, and investment in, solutions that are right for the scale of the problem. Piece-meal, local solutions will at best fail to meet needs, and at worst cause irreparable damage to the values of Cambridge. We believe a step-change in thinking is needed to meet the unprecedented scale of the challenge Cambridge is facing.
Light Rail is a practical and important potential solution to Cambridge transport challenges, and is adopted in hundreds of cities world-wide. While more expensive in the near term, it should be considered seriously as part of integrated and enduring solutions. Light Rail offers the speed, capacity, frequency, reliability, convenience and accessibility to bring about the major improvements needed in the connectivity and efficiency of the Cambridge transport network. Light Rail is also highly scalable, to take account of growing future demand. It is the technology most likely to enable the substantial change in people’s journey decisions that is needed to create a more sustainable City.
At present, the Greater Cambridge City Deal is not considering light rail proposals because they are not viewed as deliverable within funding and time constraints for this programme. Whether within the City Deal framework, or outside, a longer-term approach to an integrated and sustainable transport strategy for the Cambridge region is needed.
Cambridge Connect has therefore developed for consideration conceptual plans for five illustrative alternatives for a Cambridge Light Rail system. The first priority amongst those we call the 'Isaac Newton Line', in reference to the innovative and creative approaches that are a hallmark of Cambridge. Extensions could be developed in a phased manner. The illustrative phases are at an early stage of development, and much detailed technical work needs to be done before any alternative, or combination of alternatives, could be selected. Cambridge Connect offers these as models to help promote reconsideration of the types of solutions that will be fit for purpose for Cambridge in the 21st Century.
Cambridge Connect conducted a brief survey on our initial Cambridge Light Rail options over the last few months. The results of this survey influenced the design of the 'Isaac Newton Line' and extensions. Thanks to everyone who completed the survey and made constructive comments!
Connect Light Rail
Underground Light Rail would enable rapid access to the inner City while protecting its historic and beautiful character. Other methods to convey large numbers of people on the surface are subject to congestion, clog narrow roads and lanes, crowd cyclists and pedestrians, and can be inefficient. A 2014 Cambridge Evening News poll showed that the public prefer an underground 'Metro-like' system as the best long-term solution to Cambridge congestion.
Connect Heavy Rail
Heavy Rail provides vital connections from Cambridge to London, East and North, although connections West are poor. A direct rail link to Oxford, under consideration, would strengthen educational, scientific, cultural and business links, and help power the economy. Cambridge Light Rail is designed with this in view. In the South, we connect to Addenbrookes hospital, the BioMedical Campus, Granta Park, Babraham, and residential areas such as Linton and Haverhill to Cambridge city, London and beyond.
Buses are an important component in a multimodal mix of Cambridge public transport. They offer flexible services to sites that would be too expensive to reach by Light Rail. Against their advantages, buses lack the speed, capacity & scalability of Light Rail, and tend to be poor on environmental performance. Buses suffer delays in traffic without dedicated lanes, and can impose on cyclists and pedestrians. Improve bus services where they offer real advantages, including to parts of the City and region a Cambridge Light Rail network cannot reach.
Cambridge is a 'Cycle City', yet infrastructure is poor compared to many European cities. Cyclists compete with lorries, buses & cars on narrow, congested roads, and many cyclists are daunted by the risks. Pedestrians and cyclists often share inadequate spaces. Substantial improvements to Cambridge cycle access and safety are needed. Cambridge Light Rail would help address needs by reducing the number of buses & private vehicles in the inner city, and the network would be very accessible on foot and by cycle.
The Isaac Newton Line is a bi-directional Light Rail line of ~ 22 km in length which would extend from the Girton Interchange via the new University development in the northwest called Eddington, the University West Campus, the University Library, City Centre, Parker’s Piece, Cambridge Central Station to Addenbrookes, Shelford, Sawston and to Granta Park. A spur would extend to Trumpington and a new Park & Ride at J11 on the M11. The underground component within the historic City core would extend 3.2 km from Cambridge Central Rail Station to the Cavendish area on the West Campus, with …
Greenprint for a sustainable City. The accessibility of the proposed Cambridge Light Rail stops to residential / commercial areas in Cambridge is illustrated by the adjacent map. The percentage area of the City that is accessible on foot and by cycle to Light Rail stops is summarised in the table below. The map shows an accessible and attractive public transport alternative that could be transformative for inner city traffic, as more people decide to walk or cycle to their nearest stop and, instead of driving their car, take the Cambridge Light Rail network to their destination of …
Transport solutions need to be multimodal and well-integrated to be most successful (see, for example, the multimodal integrated approach in Nice and in Nottingham). While Cambridge Connect places emphasis on Light Rail as an important element to be considered in the mix, this needs to be connected to different modes of transport that are suited to different needs. It is also important to recognise that private vehicles are likely to remain a dominant choice for many for a long time to come. While this probably won't include space shuttles, other forms of transport that form part of the …
Cambridge Light Rail would provide people with short journey times on a rapid transit system. Based on an average speed of 33 kph (London Tube, Transport for London) including stops the proposed routes could move people across Cambridge astonishingly quickly. Journey times Cambridge Connect has calculated typical journey times between example stops if all options for the Cambridge Light Rail line were implemented. For example: Cambridge Central Station to Market Square: 3 mins 20 s! One stop at Parker's Piece. Histon Road (near A14) to Market Square: less than 15 minutes. …
from Cambridge Central Station to Market Square on Cambridge Light Rail underground
Number of vehicles entering/leaving
Cambridge - per day - in 2015
maybe not such fun!
The year the first traffic lights were installed in Cambridge